At the height of the race riots in the summer of 2020, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan (D-Wash.) allegedly considered handing over control of a police precinct building to the Black Lives Matter rioters who had destroyed much of the city.
According to The Hill, newly-released documents reveal that on June 8, 2020, the director of Seattle’s Department of Finance and Administrative Services (FAS), Calvin Goings, had sent three memos to Durkan about letting rioters take full control of the Seattle Police Department’s East Precinct building. Goings had even drafted legislation to formally approve the surrender, which was also included in an email.
Durkan’s office has refuted the report, with spokeswoman Chelsea Kellogg claiming in a statement that “the very preliminary work by FAS and the realities of policing confirmed it was neither feasible nor in the best interest of public safety” to let rioters seize the building.
Kellogg also claimed that Durkan’s office had no role in the alleged planning, telling a reporter that it’s “interesting that you assume and state that the Mayor asked for a draft resolution on this property when that is not how the process works. FAS oversees both city owned property and many real estate deals.”
However, FAS has disputed the claims from Durkan’s office and insisted that the mayor was indeed involved in the planning. FAS spokeswoman Melissa Mixon said that “the Durkan administration directed FAS — in its capacity as the city’s real estate and facility management agency — to outline the process to transfer the East Precinct to BLMSKC (Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County).”
Although the police department successfully regained control of the building on July 1, the department’s leadership was not aware of the proposal to surrender the building.
“We were not aware of any plans on the city’s part to permanently leave the precinct, or any plans to share the space with the community,” said department spokesman Sgt. Randy Huserik.
Following the outbreak of race riots across the nation in 2020, Seattle became one of the epicenters of mass violence by rioters, including looting, assaults, and murders. Most infamously, Seattle saw the establishment of an Anarcho-Communist “autonomous zone” that was named “Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone” (CHAZ), which occupied six city blocks in downtown Seattle for less than a month, from June to July. The zone included the East Precinct building that Durkan considered surrendering, which had been boarded up and surrounded with a chain link fence prior to evacuation; rioters defaced the building’s name over the main entrance, spray-painting “Peoples” over the word “Police.”
Although Durkan initially allowed the autonomous zone to continue despite the high rate of crime within the zone, including drug use, rapes, and assaults, she finally allowed police to clear out the zone after five different shootings occurred over the course of nine days, from June 20 to June 29, leaving four men injured and two dead. The zone was completely cleared of rioters by July 1.